Archive for beauty

Why do we hate boobies?
In which I Will Not Diet officially becomes NSFW



Okay, we all knew this was coming. From the second I started blogging here this post was on the horizon, biding its time until it could finally strike this unsuspecting blog and its innocent readers. [Editor’s note—you know what, Rachel? I honestly didn’t know this was coming. But I’m so glad it is.] So here it is everybody—my titty post.


Boobs are, obviously, fantastic. Everybody likes them. Straight men, gay women, gay men, and straight women—everybody loves the tits. It’s a fact. It’s a universal constant. And the general logic with boobies is the bigger the better.

However, allow me to bring in my unpopular opinion… I think that big boobs are going out of style.

“Bwaaa?” you say, possibly doing a spit take. “But everybody likes big boobs!”

And, of course, ostensibly that’s true. I, for instance, love me some big boobs. One of the few victories I have in the world of siblings is that I have the biggest boobs of my three sisters. (I mean, they’re both A-Cups, but still.)

But I think it’s becoming increasingly apparent that, while society may talk a big talk about loving big boobs, they don’t do a whole lot to show that love.


I got to thinking about this primarily because of a recent episode of Project Runway. Or, to be more specific, several episodes of Project Runway.

See, every season of Project Runway has at least one challenge where the contestants have to design a dress for a woman who is (GASP) not a supermodel.

And every times this happens (even though this happens every damn season and the designers should clearly see it coming) there is at least one contestant who looks at their average-sized woman and proclaims something to the effect of “What? I have to sew around boobs?!?!?

And the justification they always end up making is that they’ve never had to sew for average-sized women before! And boobs are hard! And why can’t I just keep making clothes for flat-chested size double zeros forever?

And they never seem to find it concerning they they’ve gone their whole career without ever making clothes for a woman with breasts (which in my experience are a very normal and common thing for women to have).

 Tim Gunn is obviously still a gem of a human being though.

Tim Gunn is obviously still a gem of a human being though.


The truth is, the fashion industry is very hostile towards titties. Take, for instance, fashion model Jourdan Dunn, who wasn’t allowed to walk for Dior because her boobs were too big.


And we see the effects of this even outside the world of “high fashion.” Every big-boobied lady knows the struggles. All the cute lacy bras are in the little sizes, the only “modest” neckline is a turtleneck, and button-up shirts do that thing.

We live in a society that can 3-d print organs, but we can’t fix this?

We live in a society that can 3-d print organs, but we can’t fix this?


I’m sure we’re all aware that little breasted ladies have to deal with their own trials and tribulations as well. Don’t worry little titmice, I get it.

 It’s tough.

It’s tough.


But can you imagine the struggles of the ladies who are bigger than a D cup? Have you even seen a G or H cup bra for sale at Target? Because the lack of such bras is not due to the lack of G and H cup women, it’s due to a lack of interest in making such bras easily available.

And let’s not pretend that this is limited only to the fashion industry. I used to know a girl with a pretty big set of lung protectors, and she mentioned once how, at a mock interview, the interviewer told her, flat out, “you have to accept that women in your position are more susceptible to looking unprofessional. A shirt that clings like that would not be acceptable.”

I mean, she was wearing a suit, but society has still deemed this specific body part to be unprofessional. It’s worrisome.

And I think that we all know the dirty little secret behind this, which is that our society’s rejection of all things “chubby” has extended even to boobs, the two things which are supposedly allowed to be large on a lady.

But, you know, it might be a little more insidious than that. Boobs are a handy symbol of femininity. A happy bouncy fun symbol of femininity. And the lesson we’re giving to those members of the nitty gritty titty committee is that their boobs should be enjoyed by everybody but them. Yes, big boobs are fine for porn and movies and comic books, but Lord knows we aren’t gonna actually allow them out in the real world!

But Amy Schumer and her boobs continue to make the world a better place.

But Amy Schumer and her boobs continue to make the world a better place.


So my point is not that I don’t think big boobs are great, it’s that I think that everybody knows that they’re great, but society’s dumb standards towards women and bodies has trapped us in the no-win scenario of telling ladies that their badonkadonks are shameful, need to be hidden, and are generally unacceptable. The question we have to ask is—who wins from this? What monster benefits from beautiful boobies being hidden away and trapped in beige, ill-fitting bra prisons?

Nobody does. My point is, it’s stupid. Boobs are delightful and wonderful, and we need to stop punishing ladies for having them.

 I’m sure you were all eagerly awaiting a nip pic.

I’m sure you were all eagerly awaiting a nip pic.


-Rachel Sudbeck

Gabourney Sidibe is Important


Gabourey Sidibe (GABB-UH-RAY SIDD-UH-BAY) is living everybody’s dream life sans the typical “dream body.” She’s beautiful and fabulous, and in her interviews she seems like a really cool person. (a.k.a. please be our friend, Gabby.)

Gabourey Sidibe got her first acting job with absolutely zero experience. At age 26 she went to a huge open audition at age and was given the lead role in Precious, which would later earn her almost universal accolades for her acting ability, along with an Oscar nomination for best actress.  In other words, she’s living the exact daydream we all had in middle school.

She is one of the few plus-sized actresses really in the game right now, and she’s using that exposure to encourage confidence in young girls. As as she said in her speech at the 2014 Gloria Awards, “It’s my good time, and my good life, despite what you think of me. I live my life, because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame. I show up because I’m an asshole, and I want to have a good time.”

Gabby has dealt with more than her fair share of bullies and internet jerks, and she’s handled it with grace and aplomb. All you need to know is that, after numerous magazines and fans criticized her appearance at the 2014 Golden Globes, she made this tweet: “To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK


Puberty is a Rip-Off
In which I fish for compliments and ponder the struggles of being short.

So here’s a question for you…

At what age, exactly, did you first realize that you weren’t going to be beautiful?

Like, maybe you were okay looking, but when did you realize that you were never gonna be heart-stoppingly life-destroyingly gorgeous?

For me, it was a very specific moment. I was at the orthodontist in eighth grade, and he was looking at an x-ray of my hand to determine how much longer it would be until I could get jaw surgery.

“Well, you see,” he said to my mother, “there’s no real space left between the bones of her hand, so she’s pretty much done growing.”

And that was the moment when I realized that this was where I peaked.

See, I’m a pretty short person, and I don’t mean the tiny, fae-like sort of short. I’m more like the…stubby, hobbit kind of short. I’ve been short since day one. I was a short baby probably. I started out short, and whenever I grew, the other kids grew proportionately, so it’s just been a lifetime of shortness.

This has only been exacerbated by my twin brother, who is a giant. He has always been a giant. He is, currently, over a foot taller than me. They literally thought he was going to eat me in the womb. It’s probably the biggest injustice of my life.

And the real issue is that, when you’re a short kid and your behemoth of a brother is making fun of your shortness, adults always say the same thing: “She’ll grow.”

They talk about how they were short as a kid, or they throw around fancy words like “growth spurt” and “growing pains,” and it all adds up to that fact that I entered into puberty with certain expectations. There I was—little fifth grade worm Rachel—waiting to enter a pubescent chrysalis stage and bust out of it as sexy grown-up butterfly Rachel.

Now, I knew that there would be a given amount of acne, and I understood the whole business with a period, but those were all pitched to me as being mere steps in the process to becoming Adult! Rachel.

So in my imagination, puberty was a lot more transformative than it actually turned out to be. It would straighten my nose, fluff my boobs, plump my lips, and make me taller. And by the end I would be a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, because that’s what adulthood is, right?

Now imagine all of those expectations, all of those hopes and dreams, and they’re all smushed by some orthodontist telling you that your height had peaked at five-foot-two.

Okay, five foot one.

People act as if puberty is very cut and dry, start to finish. There’s kid you, there’s teenage you, and there’s adult you. So I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the shock of a lifetime when I realized one day that, hey, adult me is already here, and she still has acne!

I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the disappointing thought that this is as good as it gets.

Please don’t misunderstand. I get by. I have no real issues with how I look. I actually think I’m pretty goshdarn cute. It’s just that I was all set to become a ten, and instead I settled into, like, a six and a half (in the right light). You know, all right, but nothing really special.

And that could have been the sad end to my puberty tale except that there’s a little secret nobody tells you in middle school—

It’s hard work to be pretty.

Being pretty takes time and determination and make-up and spanx. It requires a whole lot of effort. Pretty girls don’t just wake up that way. Well, okay, maybe some lucky jerks do, but most people don’t just wake up one day and find out they’ve become gorgeous (barring plastic surgery). Pretty is something you have to cultivate. Famous people and super models look that way partially because of fortunate genetics, but also because someone is paid a lot of money to spend two hours putting make-up on them.

And the thing is, you can approach this in a few ways:

  1. You can say, “screw it. Screw everything. Screw Tyra Banks and her stupid tv show.”
  2. You can say, “I have control over how I look, and I am able to make myself prettier if I want to.”
  3. Or you can embrace a cautious mix of numbers 1 and 2.

Now, I’m never gonna be on America’s Next Top Model. (Their minimum height requirement is 5’7, the fascists.) But I also sure as hell don’t look the same as I did at age thirteen. Even if I haven’t grown in height, I’ve learned about make-up, I’ve figured out how to dress myself better (thirteen-year-old Rachel really liked cargo pants) and I’ve taken plenty of bombin’ selfies. Turns out it is possible to take the bum deal that puberty gave you and make your own gorgeous out of it. And whether that means t-shirts and yoga pants or sundresses and sandals, we’re allowed to change ourselves into any version we like.

And, just a heads up, at six-foot-three my brother is well within the requirements of America’s Next Top Model, so that’s something for him to start working towards.


Rachel Sudbeck


In defense of curly hair and natural beauty

When I was traveling last week and the week before, I encountered an idea that always makes me kind of nuts… the idea that naturally curly hair isn’t as good as straight hair.

I first encountered this attitude when visiting one of my friends. It was a fantastic visit except for one thing… my friend’s eight-year-old daughter, whom I’ll call Valerie, started questioning what makes someone hot.

We were looking at old pictures of Valerie’s mom, and I said to her, “Doesn’t your mom look pretty?” and Valerie said, “Kind of, but she’s not hot.”

“Why not?” I asked Valerie.

“Because of her hair. It’s not straight. It’s all puffy.”

“Well, that was in style back then,” I told Valerie. “Trust me, your mom was hot.”

“No,” Valerie insisted with all the self-assurance of Heidi Klum. “She wasn’t.”

Valerie was adamant, and I saw no way to change her mind. Still, I didn’t want to simply give in to her belief, so I added, “You don’t have to have straight hair to be hot.”

“Yes, you do,” Valerie said, again as sure of herself as a supermodel.

Then, a few days later, I was visiting my sister’s family when the same issue came up AGAIN with my nieces, ten-year-old Lucy and twelve-year-old Ethel (obviously not their real names).

“Your hair would look so much better straight, Aunt Molly,” Lucy said. “Will you please let us straighten it?”

“But I like it curly,” I said. “How about you can do my hair but keep it curly?”

“No, Aunt Molly!” Lucy said, pushing me to give in. “We want it straight!”

I looked at Ethel, the quieter of my two nieces. “It looks really good straight,” Ethel said somewhat reluctantly, agreeing with her sister.

“Okay, fine,” I said, not really caring if I had straight hair for a day or not.

Still, the whole time I kept thinking, why do these young girls think straight hair is so much more attractive than curly hair? Where do they learn that?

Of course, I didn’t have to think about it very long.

Turn on the TV or open a magazine and all you see are stick-thin women with long straight hair—often made longer with extensions.

One time I was out shopping with my nieces when we saw a young woman with super long blond hair (obviously fake) as well artificially white teeth, an equally artificial dark tan, Daisy Dukes, and a tight v-neck t-shirt that showed off her tiny waist and out of proportion large boobs. The girls were wowed.

“Look, Aunt Molly!” Ethel said as she blushed at the woman. “She’s so pretty.”

“She is?” I asked the two of them, not hiding the skepticism in my voice. “I think she looks fake.”

“No,” Lucy insisted. “She looks beautiful.”

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I tell you that both Lucy and Ethel really are beautiful—simultaneously beautiful and incredibly natural looking in that way that comes so easily when you’re young and is so hard to achieve as you age.

But if young girls today think that a fake tan, fake teeth, fake straight hair, and fake boobs are what make women beautiful, then I fear that the adult women of the future will all look exactly the same.

Will you feel lucky when your looks go?

And when your looks are gone and you’re alone,
how many nights you sit beside the phone?
What were the things you wanted for yourself?
Teenage ambitions you remember well.  

—”Heat of the Moment” by Asia


I’m visiting family right now in the suburbs outside of Chicago, and that means I’m spending a lot of time with my two wonderful nieces, ages 10 and 12.

My nieces—whom I’ll call Lucy and Ethel—LOVE to talk about bodies. They are almost obsessed with bodies, especially the bodies of adult women as, of course, Lucy and Ethel are aware that they will some day be adult women.

A few years ago, they were infatuated with breasts, which they called pillows back then. But this summer we’ve been talking more about how bodies change as we age—how their bodies are changing and will continue to change, how my body is changing, how their mother’s body is changing, and how my mother/their grandmother’s body is changing.

The other day we were talking about shaving legs—and when it’s appropriate to do so—when Lucy started poking my legs.

“What are those?” she said, pointing at the tiny circles on my legs.

“Hair follicles,” I told her. “They’re more noticeable once you start shaving. That’s another reason to wait as long as you can to shave.”

“What about that?” Ethel said, putting her finger on a larger, darker circle on my ankle.

“That’s an age spot. You get them as you grow older.”

“I don’t want to look like that when I get older,” Ethel said.

“You don’t have much choice,” I said. “If we’re lucky, we will grow older, and our bodies will start to look different.”

Neither Lucy and Ethel seemed happy about this assertion. They both looked at me with their lips twisted into knots.

“You know there’s nothing wrong with growing old—or even looking old,” I explained. “That’s what’s wrong with the American obsession with beauty… if we’re all supposed to be beautiful, what happens when we get older? How are we supposed to feel good about ourselves when we get wrinkles and saggy boobs?”

Lucy and Ethel didn’t answer, their bright eyes open wide as they pondered my question. I, too, considered the question I had posed to them, which caused me to have an epiphany of my own.

I realized then that if we don’t reject the notion that the only way we can be attractive and have value is to be beautiful (and by American standards that means thin and young and blonde), then it’s going to be very very difficult to be happy or have any sense of self-esteem as we age. That means that I really and truly have to buy into the idea that I don’t have to look beautiful to feel good about myself.

To be honest, this realization was somewhat freeing. The idea that I truly won’t be able to be beautiful (again, according to American standards) as I get older also means I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

I’ll just be able to be myself.

I turned back to the girls once I’d figured this out. “Someday I’ll look like Grandma,” I told them.

“You will?” Lucy asked.

“Yes, and if that happens,” I said, “then I will be very very lucky.”

Say it . . . five easy steps for celebrating women everywhere

Giovanni Bellini's YOUNG WOMAN WITH A MIRROR, 1515


Today is International Women’s Day.

In honor of this occasion, I’m going to keep things simple. I want you to do me a favor while also doing yourself a favor and ultimately doing all of us a favor by following these five easy steps for celebrating women around the globe . . .


1) Go to the nearest bathroom. The one with the biggest mirror in your house. You know the one—the one you use when you really want to see yourself.


2) Now study yourself in the mirror.


3) No, not like that. Look closer. Really lean in and get a good look.


4) Now find that part of you—that one essential thing that is YOU—that you totally and completely love. You know the part I’m talking about.


5) And then say what it is you see—name it, make it real.

No, not to yourself.

Say it out loud.

Say, “My eyes are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.”

Say, “My nose makes me look smart.”

Say, “My eyebrows never need to be plucked.”

Say, “My skin is dewey and fresh.”

Say it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder is YOU

What is it that makes one feel attractive?

Is it only when we look like the people in the movies?

For men, is it when they have a McDreamy-like thick head of hair?

Or a sculpted Brad Pitt face?

For women, is it having the big-but-not-too-big boobs of ScarJo?

Or eyes as seductive as Mila Kunis?

Tonight I heard about a little boy who wonders why his mom doesn’t dress like the other moms because she spends her days in yoga pants and t-shirts. He also worries that he’s not handsome because he has moles.

Marilyn Monore had a mole that defined her.

So did Cindy Crawford.

And people actually complained when Sarah Jessica Parker got rid of her famous mole. (To those people I say, get a freaking life.)

That’s because, as most of us know, determining what is beautiful really all depends on who you’re asking.

As for the little boy’s other concern, according to Glamour magazine, the majority of men find women most attractive when they’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It turns out, we wear dresses and heels for us rather than for them.

But isn’t that okay? Isn’t it okay if we all like different things about ourselves rather than trying to be just like McDreamy or Scarjo? Or just like each other?

I know I feel fabulous when I arrive at work or go out on the weekend in killer heels and a clingy dress, but I also know plenty of other women who would hate to wear that kind of outfit and feel more at home in Levi’s and cowboy boots.

And even though I think my husband would look amazing in a Justin Bateman v-neck sweater . . .

or a black vest a la Dan Humphrey . . .

he won’t wear either one.

From my point of view, that’s what makes us interesting—we’re all different, and we’re all beautiful in incredibly individual ways. And it’s good that we don’t want to look exactly alike.

So what it is that you like about you? What is one of the things about you that makes you feel good?

I’d really love to hear it.

When I’m ninety-four

As I sit here typing this, one of my good friends—at the age of 94—is struggling to recover from a massive stroke and one of my new family members—who is one year old this month—is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. I am terribly worried about both of them and hoping with everything I have that they are both spared any unnecessary pain. Still, for some reason, I feel content, and I want to tell you why . . .

I found out about the 94-year-old friend first, and I was crushed. What I didn’t get was why I was so upset given that I knew my friend’s time was short. Every time I saw her, I understood that it may be the last time. Not because she had been sick, but just because when you’re 94, everything is precarious.

The last time I saw Eileen she could not have been more happy. That was the day she introduced me to her new boyfriend—only 91!—for the first time even though they’d been seeing each other for a few years. After so many years of being married to someone else, it took that long for the two of them to be ready to let people outside their families know that they were together. Eileen still wears her husband’s ring on her finger, but she and her boyfriend George have found that it’s easier to go on together. Before their respective spouses died, the four of them had been friends for years. And in their grief, they have found some comfort in each other.

Eileen’s eyes were filmed over with cataracts that afternoon, and George’s legs were covered in age spots. But neither one of them seemed to notice these imperfections inside the glow of their love. And that’s why I’m crushed about Eileen—because even at 94, you still feel as alive as you did at 16.

I was reminded of Eileen and George when I watched Another Year, the latest Mike Leigh film, this past weekend and noticed, happily, that the romantic leads in the film—played by Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen (pictured above)—were similarly imperfect: he without much of his hair and she with a little extra padding around the middle. At one point, Sheen’s character says, “I’ve had some middle-aged spread” while pointing to her mid-section, and her husband says, “Nonsense, you’re beautiful.”

That was the line that made me fall in love with that movie.

I had a long talk with a single friend the other day about the importance of choosing a partner based on who a person is rather than what he or she looks like. And two days before my husband’s 42nd birthday, as we are both beginning to look more wrinkled and worn every day, I am well aware of how central this idea is to our happiness. Yes, we found each other physically attractive when we met and still do now, but it’s amazing how unimportant that seems as time passes.

So even though this has been a week full of bad news, I still feel lucky . . . lucky to be able to write, lucky to be healthy, and most of all lucky to have found someone who agrees with me about this issue, someone I hope to know when I’m 94.

Reader mail

I had a reader of the blog email me last week saying she needed advice about trying to lose weight. She has struggled with numerous diets in the past—not being able to stick with them and also feeling like she’ll never be as skinny or attractive as her two married sisters. Since I get questions about this on a regular basis, I thought I’d share my response . . .

Dear XXX,
I do believe that the first step to losing weight is body acceptance, which is a big part of what my blog is about. If you do not accept yourself the way you are—and like yourself the way you are—you will probably never lose weight and keep it off. So my first piece of advice is to look in the mirror and figure out what about you is most attractive. Most people have one amazing feature—be it beautiful eyes, a perfect nose, full lips, gorgeous brows, adorable ears, a sculpted jawline, or clear skin. (For me, it’s my eyes, and luckily, I’ve always known that.) And I think when people see us, they focus on that good quality—and never see the parts of us that are average or imperfect.

I have a friend who is extremely obese, and after knowing her for a year or so, she told me she thinks that when people see her, all they see is her fat. I was horrified and also knew immediately she was wrong. This is someone who is blessed with a sunny disposition and a gorgeous face. When I see her, the first thing I see is her infectious smile—she is the kind of person who lights up a room. After that, I see her adorable nose, her pretty eyes, and her flattering freckles. I never even think about the fact that she weighs more than 300 lbs. It’s not even on my radar. But when I told her this, it shocked her. She thought it was the FIRST thing people saw. In truth, people see your assets first, not your flaws.

So you need to look in the mirror and figure out what it is about you that makes you beautiful. You may not be as thin as your sisters—and trust me I know all about that—but you do have something that sets you apart. I know it.

Once you find that thing about you that you know is attractive and start focusing on that by buying clothes or accessories that emphasize it, you’ll notice people will start complimenting you about it too. You say that you’re not attractive, but as soon as you decide you ARE attractive, other people will find you attractive too. Confidence is contagious, and once you have it, you will pretty easily find that people—men included—are drawn to you.

After you re-gain your confidence and focus on YOUR attractive features, you can start working on losing weight. I follow a seven-step approach to losing weight that is not a diet, but a lifestyle change. Because my approach allows you to eat junk food from time to time, it’s not hard to change your life this way.

Incidentally, the reason you want to eat junk food every time you go on a diet is because the diet tells you not to eat junk food. Any time someone tells you not to do something, the natural response is to want to do it. That’s one of the main reasons diets don’t work. The other reason diets don’t work—and 90% of dieters gain back the weight—is because our bodies get used to eating less, and when the diet is over and we go back to eating more, our bodies store those extra calories rather than burning them. These are the two reasons I am totally opposed to dieting. Instead of dieting, here’s what I recommend on the blog:

1) Like yourself
2) Indulge from time to time
3) Play more and play often
4a) Avoid processed foods
4b) Understand why it’s hard to avoid them, so you can avoid them even more
5) Cook at home
6) Eat all day long
7) Get more sleep

Also, you may want to read my manifesto and my post about how I define the word diet. You should know that though my approach will work in the long run, it is not about quick results as much as lasting ones.

Honestly, it may take you five years to lose all the weight you want to lose. But it will work.

Finally, remember that not everyone has the same body. You may even have a different body than your sisters who share your genes. I grew up with a rail-thin sister, and it took me years to realize my body could not possibly look like hers. But neither of our bodies are perfect. She hates that she has to wear a padded bra, and I hate that I need spanx on special occasions. Either way, no one is perfect. And no one body is perfect either.

I really hope that this helps. Please check in with me and let me know how this plan works for you. I would love to hear back from you again.

Good luck!


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